Starbucks, AT&T National Rollout Begins; Free WiFi Access Begins

Actually, I had an inkling of this before the press release rolled in just now — when the AT&T (NYSE: T) network took over as soon as my computer started looking for a network at the Starbucks where I’m working for a while this morning. Until today, the customary T-Mobile network still popped up first with an option to try AT&T if you had an existing broadband account. Now, there’s an AT&T splash screen with tiny print at the bottom warning “if you are not an AT&T Customer, please disconnect and reconnect to the tmobile SSID.” Took a while but finally got it switched.

AT&T Internet and WiFi customers will have free access starting May 1 at 7,000-plus locations across the U.S. (So far, this doesn’t apply to those of us with WiFi-enabled mobile devices with AT&T data plans. Memo to Randall Stephenson: Fix that, please, if you truly want AT&T to be viewed as a seamless offering.) Others will get access market by market throughout the year: “The experience will include a mix of free and paid connection options for both frequent and occasional Wi-Fi users and qualifying Starbucks customers. Once AT&T Wi-Fi service is available, customers will be able to shop and surf both Starbucks’ and AT&T’s respective home pages for products and services.”

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